Action needed against bird-baiting

I am deeply troubled by a recent event that was published in a local Facebook group that focuses on nature photography.

The post depicted a horde of bird photographers gathered around a supposedly rescued migratory bird.

Although I do not doubt that the bird was rescued with good intentions, the actions following its rescue were deeply disconcerting.

The location and time of the release were broadcast to various photography groups, prompting a mob of photographers to show up to capture a shot of the unfortunate bird.

Rescued animals that are released after rehabilitation are usually covered - with at least a cloth - before and during the release, as they would be under immense stress. The locations of such releases are also kept confidential, with minimal human presence in the area.

In this case, the bird was kept in an uncovered cage surrounded by more than a few dozen photographers.

One can only imagine the stress it experienced being surrounded by a massive crowd with cameras clicking away.

In Bidadari, where the bird was released, some photographers were observed to have placed bait like mealworms on tree trunks, in an effort to attract the bird for a good shot.

This is a punishable offence.

I have encountered many errant and unethical photographers during visits to parks and nature reserves. Perhaps serious nature photographers should have to apply for a permit before they can be allowed to photograph in our sensitive nature spaces.

In 2016, a surgeon was charged with littering and feeding endangered birds (Surgeon gets $2k fine for feeding endangered birds; Oct 26, 2016).

Bird baiting is something that occurs with shocking regularity. But there is little to no law enforcement against such bad behaviour.

What are the National Parks Board and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore doing to address this issue?

I have encountered many errant and unethical photographers during visits to parks and nature reserves.

Perhaps serious nature photographers should have to apply for a permit before they can be allowed to photograph in our sensitive nature spaces.

Neeraj Prabakharan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Action needed against bird-baiting'. Print Edition | Subscribe